Finding Melodies Without a Word

If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!

Oops. Wrong analogy.

What I meant to say is, “If you can make a D7 chord, you can find a melody.”

If you need to schedule a lesson or ask a music-related question, text (do not call) (410) 713-4044

www.frailingbanjo.com

www.patreon.com/Dobro33H

If you are having a hard time getting this old-time banjo thing down, please contact us. Even if you can’t pay for lessons we will work with you.

Also, be sure to join us every Wednesday for The Wednesday Night Banjo And Donut Marching Society. All musicians are welcome! http://banjoanddonut.com/

Next Meeting of the Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Marching Society: Aug 26, 2020

2:00 PM Eastern

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89826372585?pwd=cDcyUFJrTkRlVGVxbDRjMlowVktpZz09

Meeting ID: 898 2637 2585
Passcode: 751324
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+19292056099,,89826372585#,,,,,,0#,,751324# US (New York)

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+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 898 2637 2585
Passcode: 751324
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbsut99avC


7:00 PM Eastern

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84891182114?pwd=Sm1zNHV3dWkwaklxOURNcllYVEVWUT09

Meeting ID: 848 9118 2114
Passcode: 869014
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+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
Meeting ID: 848 9118 2114
Passcode: 869014
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdkHPPRF79

Fake Plastic Views

I have been teaching music in one form of another on the Internet since 1997. In those long years I have seen scams come and I have seen scams go. The web is a lot like a never-ending gold rush with one fool after another trying to win the lottery with viral content.

I have been on YouTube since 2006. As I write this, I have well over 1000 videos, 4,483,739 views and 16,791 subscribers. This is not counting the workshops that have been deleted from the platform or the huge number of workshops that I created before 2006.

If those numbers seem low to you, it is probably because you have visited a channel that is either insanely popular or been exposed to a content creator who buys traffic.

Buying traffic is based on the illogical stunt of salting your case with money before going out busking. The thinking is that like attracts like. If people think you are making money they will assume you are good and pitch in.

That never really works, by the way. Busking is hard to do well. It’s not just putting your case out and hoping for change. You have to work the crowd.

I know of a few YouTube music instructors who are using services to create the illusion of success. The New York Times wrote a clear article on the trend back in 2018. Once you know what to look for, it starts to get easy to spot.

Last night, I received an email from one of these services. I am not interested in fake views any more than I am interested in fitting in or being clutched to the sweaty and hairy moobs of the banjo community – but I thought you all would get a kick out of the price list:

OFFER!!! OFFER!!! OFFER!!! 
(100% REAL & ORGANIC)


Instagram followers:
10000+ for 100$
50000+ for 450$ 
100000+ for 850$


Youtube views:
5000+ for 30$
10000+ for 60$
500000+ for 280$


Youtube subscriber:
1000 for 80$
2000 for 150$
5000 for 350$


Spotify listeners:
5000 for 25$
10000 for 50$
50000 for 250$


Instagram live steaming views, Soundcloud, twitter, facebook and other social services are available.

Who would have thought honor sells so cheaply?

And people wonder why I hate the Internet…

A Wordless Rhythm Workshop

Today we use the old bromide, Boil ’em Cabbage Down to explore different ways to phrase rhythm in 4/4 time.

If you need to schedule a lesson or ask a music-related question, text (do not call) (410) 713-4044

www.frailingbanjo.com

www.patreon.com/Dobro33H

If you are having a hard time getting this old-time banjo thing down, please contact us. Even if you can’t pay for lessons we will work with you.

Also, be sure to join us every Wednesday for The Wednesday Night Banjo And Donut marching Society. All musicians are welcome! http://banjoanddonut.com/

An Open Letter To Steve Martin

Dear Steve,

A while back, I saw you on some pointless awards show working your way through a banjo solo you had composed.

The audience thought your performance was a joke. After all, you used a similar serious stance for the Flyzinni skit. As the song meandered on the crowd began to giggle anticipating the punchline.

Watching you set your jaw near the end of the performance, I turned to my dad and said, “Oh God. He is going to buy himself a music career.”

I am not psychic. Being almost deaf, I can read people like an open book.

Not long after that, you bought yourself a bluegrass band. Since you are rich and famous, NPR and other news outlets hailed you as a master. Your actual skill level is somewhere in the dedicated hobbyist level. Alas, the rules change when you have money.

You got the acclaim you desired. The Jerk was now a serious musician – but it wasn’t real, so it was not enough. To stay in the spotlight and shape yourself into a banjo god, you handed out a trophy, attention and money to your pals once a year.

None of this is any of my business. I don’t care about you or what you do with your money – but you got your fingers into the heads of my students. Year after year I have students excitedly carrying on about your expertise.

I have already experienced this sort of thing once before. I was teaching adult Modern Arnis classes when I was fourteen. Every week I had to explain to somebody that what they see in movies is nothing like a real fight. That, despite what they see in Chuck Norris movies, karate lessons will not give you the power to drive a buried truck out of a grave like Lone Wolf McQuade.

Don’t get me started about The Karate Kid. To this day, the sight of a headband makes me want to punch people.

You are in a position of great power. Instead of moving the craft forward you continue to build statues of yourself. Instead of handing out checks, you could provide instruments to elementary schools. Create a platform to make lessons freely accessible.

I am not risking anything by saying this. I will never be in danger of consideration for your meaningless trophy. This is for my students on the off chance they will realize that true masters (and that ain’t me) are usually found outside the spotlight. The greats are off somewhere practicing like mad for love of the art and nothing more.

You have resources to do so much good, and you waste it all on self-promoting clowns. Hell, I have nothing and there are jams and family singing groups all over the wold happening because my father and I helped them get going. You could be equipping folk musicians to get out there to fight for justice and sing for peace. There is such potential, and it goes nowhere. There is so much pain in the world right now, there is so much you could do.

When the coronavirus epidemic is under control, you should stop by Crisfield for a visit. I am nobody of importance. My art collection is nothing more than works created by my students. My playing skill is about right for somebody who can’t hear. I will never be famous. Hell, I have refused to perform on stage since the late 90s. That said, jamming with somebody unimpressed with you may be enough of a physic to help you realize that the banjo was never meant for the stage.

The banjo came about in the worst possible way. For most of its history, the banjo was the instrument for and of people who had nothing. A funky composite of scraps of wood, wire and the burning desire to make music. Our songs were passed on in the oral tradition out of love. The art is not in memorization. It is an improvisational language or tones that changes with every song. It enhances with every friendship and goes on and on no matter what the fools do in the spotlight.

You may be rich and famous, but this old-timer sees through you. Stop preening and go do some good. The banjo is not here to serve any individual. It is the voice of the people, and right now we need you. Get to work!

Joseph Patrick Costello III
Crisfield, Maryland

11 Years Ago

https://photos.app.goo.gl/TTkztVfFFLT6jKUNA

Google Photos sent me this little gallery of pictures from eleven years ago.

What a day that was. Amy and I wandered the Benedictine monastery gardens. It was a hot and sunny day. The flowers were blooming and filled with insects. The stifling summer heat was tempered with a deliciously cool breeze. She was the most beautiful thing in the world.

As someone who cannot sense the passage of time, little moments like this are always fresh in my memory. I can tell you almost everything being about that day. The way she sang in the silo that had been converted into a chapel. The buzz of insects in my hearing aid. The smell of the flowers. The feeling of being head over heels in love with an entire lifetime ahead of us…

The problem with having memories this fresh and vivid is that the loss is always new. The scars don’t really heal. I just learned to get used to the pain at some point over the last fifty years. To steal a line from Moby Dick, I am past scorching; not easily can’st thou scorch a scar.

The challenge now, and every day until I see her again, is to hold my memories of Amy without losing the present moment. Being brave enough to keep on living and loving and growing every day. It is not always easy, but I keep on fighting because I once danced in the August sunlight with my bride, floating on air like lovers in a painting by Chagall. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I will meet it laughing because we have too good a story to end with me growing old and bitter.

Eleven years… Wow.

Next Meeting 7/19/202

2:00 PM Eastern Time:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89826372585?pwd=cDcyUFJrTkRlVGVxbDRjMlowVktpZz09

Meeting ID: 898 2637 2585
Passcode: 751324
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,89826372585#,,,,,,0#,,751324# US (Germantown)
+19292056099,,89826372585#,,,,,,0#,,751324# US (New York)

Dial by your location
+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 898 2637 2585
Passcode: 751324
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbsut99avC


7:00 PM Eastern Time:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84891182114?pwd=Sm1zNHV3dWkwaklxOURNcllYVEVWUT09

Meeting ID: 848 9118 2114
Passcode: 869014
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,84891182114#,,,,,,0#,,869014# US (Germantown)
+13126266799,,84891182114#,,,,,,0#,,869014# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location
+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
Meeting ID: 848 9118 2114
Passcode: 869014
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdkHPPRF79